A HUMBLE hero police officer who jumped 30ft into icy waters to save a man’s life has been honoured.
PC Neal Skinner was handed a national award for his life-saving actions when he jumped off Langstone Bridge.
He was the nearest officer to the scene when a member of the public reported a man was threatening to jump off the bridge in the middle of winter.
When PC Skinner arrived the man the man said he was a former soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder having served in Northern Ireland.
The man lost balance then let go, plunging into the waters – with PC Skinner jumping in afterwards. The incident, which happened at 9.35pm on December 27, 2015, saw the another officer throw a life ring into the water.
PC Skinner, who lives near Emsworth, dragged the man to safety.
Now Hampshire police has revealed PC Skinner, then 51, was awarded a Royal Humane Society Bronze Medal.
He said: ‘The chap obviously needed some help. He said he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and served in Northern Ireland.
‘I felt that his issues could have been my issues but for the grace of God and we could have been stood on opposite sides of the bridge for different experiences.
‘I thought “I can’t just ignore it, I’ve got to do something about it”.
‘I’m greatly honoured, you never think about it at the time.
‘You don’t do it for an award but it’s very nice to think it’s been noted nationally by people, it’s a nice thing and very much appreciated.’
Hundreds of people praised PC Skinner’s bravery when The News revealed he had risked his own life in the rescue.
Speaking to The News last year, he said: ‘It was very cold and an experience I wouldn’t want to repeat in a long time.
‘I became very determined and focused that I hadn’t jumped in the water to die myself.
‘I don’t feel like a hero. I’m sure every police officer in my situation would have done the same.’
A Hampshire police spokeswoman said: ‘Without a thought for his own safety PC Skinner jumped in after him and despite the tie taking the man further away, the officer was able to grab hold of him and drag him back to a life ring.’